By on May 12, 2014

pumping gas

As fuel economy figures from the Environmental Protection Agency have been put under the gun for being heavily inaccurate in a few cases, a third-party testing company is offering the public real-world mileage numbers for comparison.

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By on May 2, 2014

FordCMaxHybridAdCap-626x338

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them.

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By on January 16, 2012

Obama! Socialism! Taxes! Jesus! Faith! Guns! Now that you’re paying attention, it’s time for our regularly scheduled programming. A Detroit News article claims that NHTSA is denying any interference on the part of the White House with respect to the Chevrolet Volt fires that resulted from government crash test procedures.

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By on January 13, 2012

 

I remember looking at the then brand new Ford Five Hundred and thinking to myself, “This would make one heck of a Volvo.”

Like the Volvos of yore this Ford offered a squarish conservative appearance. A high seating position which Volvo’s ‘safety oriented’ customers would have appreciated. Toss in a cavernous interior that had all the potential for a near-luxury family car, or even a wagon, and this car looked more ‘Volvo’ than ‘Ford’ to me with each passing day.

Something had to be done…

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By on November 30, 2011

We’ve been a bit critical of Honda’s advertising recently, and though I’m not a big fan of most of the latest David Puddy (OK, OK, Patrick Warburton) spots, I have to give it up for this one. I’ve wondered about the “cars with bows” ad meme for some time now, and though it was estimated that some 50,000+ vehicles were given as gifts last holiday season, I really can’t wait for the ad theme to die. We all love surprise gifts (especially expensive ones), but shouldn’t the person who will actually be driving the car have some say in what they get? I mean, I’d be grateful if someone bought me a new Lexus RX (a chief perpetrator of this ad meme) out of the blue… but mostly in the “it’s the thought that counts” way. Want to surprise someone with something expensive? Buy them jewelry or a watch. Want to buy someone a car? Make sure you really know exactly what car the giftee wants, and for goodness sake, make sure they drive it and the competition first. Surprises last a few seconds, the right car will delight for years to come.

By on August 27, 2011

This Cadillac ad is the latest in a series of seriously good spots for the CTS-V, which started with this “Competition” ad from last Summer. But then, as I found in a short drive, the CTS-V writes its own ad copy, 556 HP at a time. And this latest spot has one minor truth-related omission: though GM rightly claims that Magneride Magnetorheological suspension was “perfected” in the CTS-V, it actually debuted in the less ad-dollar-worthy 2002 STS. And there’s no mention of the fact that the technology was developed by Delphi, then a technically independent firm, and the technology has since been sold to Beijing West Industries. Of course, these details aren’t exactly worthy of the limited time available in a 60-second spot, but it’s the truth, dammit. “Just sayin…”

By on August 23, 2011

When Mercedes featured hooded death in an ad for its Brake Assistance System, our own European automotive advertising veteran, Bertel Schmitt, wrote

never in my life would I have expected to see the grim reaper in a car ad. Especially not in the death seat. Especially not in a Mercedes ad. The boys from Sindelfingen never were known for their daredevil approach to advertising. Even at Volkswagen, which used to take more risk in their campaigns (< - they said this one wasn’t approved), any ad showing an old man with a scythe would have been immediately – - killed.

Of course, most Americans wouldn’t bat an eye at an ad featuring death… from politics to sales, our culture is built on scaring people into buying/accepting things. But this Dutch ad for the Hyundai Veloster, which was apparently approved and then banned, would have caused a few quizzical looks in any country. Not because it features death incarnate, but because advertising the Veloster’s freaky three-door layout as a safety feature is just that absurd. This ad should never have seen the light of day for the simple reason that it’s an old-school and utterly conventional approach (by banned-ad standards, anyway) to marketing one of the few cars on the market that is willfully and unnecessarily unique, simply for the sake of being unique. Surely, in this age of appliance-like cars, conventional styling and unadventurous product planning, uniqueness is enough of a marketing hook on its own…

By on August 19, 2011

With the environment taking an ever-larger place in automotive advertising, it’s interesting to note that Fisker’s latest brochure puts green in its place: behind sexy. Of course these sultry images [via BusinessInsider] aren’t free from environmental overtones, featuring taglines like “designed to get you hot, not the planet,” but it’s clear that Fisker is more heavily relying on the most traditional tool in the advertising playbook. Why? For one thing, even though Fisker is delivering Karmas, the EPA has not yet certified its efficiency rating… so we don’t even know how environmentally friendly it is yet. For another the Karma’s main rival, Tesla’s forthcoming Model S, is pure electric and therefore more appealing to wealthy environmentalists. Finally, unlike environmental messaging, sex doesn’t remind people that Fisker was the beneficiary of over half a billion dollars in government loans. Plus, sex is still, well, sexy. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

By on July 19, 2011

Despite signs that the horsepower wars are over (or have at least been refined), nobody would argue that the American market lacks for high-powered offerings. Except, apparently, Dodge and its crack ad team at Wieden + Kennedy who have based the latest Durango ad around the idea that performance is dead in America. This canard is so preposterously misguided and thoroughly misinformed that I can’t even bring myself to lay out the all-to-obvious critique piece-by-piece. Instead, let’s turn to the legendary auto ad-blaster, the Autoextremist himself to point out why this may well be one of the most stupid car ads in a long time.
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By on June 29, 2011

Every advertiser faces a basic choice at the outset of a campaign: come up with unique, relatable imagery for ads, or riff on an established cultural meme. Volkswagen went the latter route with its “Darth Vader” Super Bowl ad, achieving huge success: it was the most popular auto-related ad of the Super Bowl, and the Youtube version has received over 40 million views. The only problem with appropriating such popular imagery: you don’t enjoy unique rights to it, meaning you can be easily hoisted by your own petard. Which is exactly what’s happened here to Volkswagen. Greenpeace is angry that VW opposed a bid to bump the EU’s 2020 emissions goal from the agreed-upon 20% to 30% of 1990 levels (even though C02 emissions improved 3.7% last year and 5.1% in 2009, and average emissions are on track to hit the 130g/km 2015 goal ahead of schedule). As a result, they’ve turned VW’s hugely popular “Darth Vader” ad on its head, identifying the giant automaker with the evil Lord Vader, and encouraging fans to “join the rebellion.”
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